How Poor Crime Reporting Tore a Family of Cottontails Apart
by Mopsy Rabbit (aka Ashley Rice)

Ever read Beatrix Potter's crime report, The Tale of Peter Rabbit? Well here's what really happened:

By noon on the day in question in the story, Flopsy, Cottontail and I had already lambasted a couple of chicken shacks before returning home to the sandbank under the fir tree, at the request of our doting mother, to get our lameass brother Peter.

When Peter went over to Mr. McGregor's to steal some French beans and radishes, he was apprehended by four flashing squad cars. As Potter states in her report, he eventually got away. But, as Potter also says: he lost his jacket on the gooseberry net. Not to mention his footprints were everywhere. The dude did not know how to commit a crime. Was basically an embarrassment to the sandbank crime ring we had going then. For years we, the Cottontails, had been masquerading as innocents, profiteering from the resale of pilfered cabbage heads, but primarily lavender, or, as Potter correctly states:  "rabbit tobacco." Peter, a "good boy," was our weakest link, not normally entrusted to the major action parts of the scam, a relative who, at family crime reunions, you did not want to stand next to. It was only because he had shown signs of depression resulting from our father having recently been put into a pie that we let him handle the main action that day.

Frustrated with Peter's refusal to turn into a criminal as was expected of him, in a moment of weakness our mother shouted, "You're just like your father. You will never amount to anything and you will end up in a pie!" So Peter insisted on proving himself that afternoon at McGregor's, which was the only reason that - for once -- he was there.

A month prior, Flops, Cotton and I (in several trips with a miniature red wheel barrow) had stolen seven pounds of medicinal pot leaves from the farmer next door, along with lavender, both of which we managed to sell in a nearby alley in town. Potter, who followed the animals in our area with her notebook and sketchpad, failed to notice any of this. And then, in her published report, she showed a false and doctored portrait of the three of us: Flops, Cotton and I, eating blackberries in our kitchen with stupid grins on our faces, while Peter - having completed his crime, apparently -- lay in bed.

When the crime report hit major bookstores, the future abruptly ended for all of us, ironically, except for Peter. Since every rabbit in the country soon recognized us from the media onslaught, which followed (stuffed Peter toys, Flops and Mops mugs, collector's editions of the crime report) no one ever took the Cottontails seriously as criminals again. Our sandbank under the root of the fir tree was and is continually looted by tourists who rip out pieces of grass like they did at Jim Morrison's grave, and we now all live in a dirt patch in a trailer park in Minnesota. Meanwhile, though he received no money for his role in the report, Peter now makes his home in a sand plot in Las Vegas, where he does volunteer work as a garbage man at a well-known casino. We don't talk to him anymore. I miss my brother. After watching Jerry Springleader on television, I came to the conclusion that I had to break my silence. Plus I was offered a million carrot sticks for the story from The Straightest Tale, after they were turned down by a known mobster and televangelist, The Velveteen Rabbit.

Ashley says:  “I'm the author and illustrator of the young adult books Girls Rule and Friends Rule. My fiction has also appeared in the Mid-South Review and in Pindeldyboz online.” Contact Ashley.